Quora: Can Employers Help Solve Healthcare?

With a stunning late-night vote, Republican Senators John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins crossed party lines voting against the GOP's "skinny repeal" version of Obamacare reform. Zach Gibson/Getty

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Answer from Michael Lee, Public Policy Analyst:

Employers' and unions' interests are pretty much diametrically opposed when it comes to pay and benefits. So there's no real incentive for them to work together!

Employers (generally speaking) want to offer health benefits that are just generous enough to attract the workforce they want. Unions, on the other hand, typically advocate for their members to receive more generous health benefits at most negotiations, and are suspicious of employers' efforts to cut health care costs, since those take the effect of reductions in employees' total compensation.

Throw in that unions represent a relatively small portion of the U.S. workforce - 15% or so last time I checked - and they're much more focused on protecting the membership they have rather than working more closely with management.

Can you blame them?

Another complication: the Affordable Care Act established minimum health care benefits rules that most employers must abide by, so it's virtually impossible for employers to design health care benefits packages that differ too substantially.

Democratic politicians seem to be coalescing around single-payer health care, though I wouldn't place odds on it passing legislatively any time soon. In the meantime, though, both the economic incentives associated with labor/management relations and the health care regulatory framework augur ill for this kind of cooperation.

Why don't the US employers and unions get together to form a single cooperative health scheme to reduce costs and provide adequate health benefits to employees and their families? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Quora: Can Employers Help Solve Healthcare? | Opinion